Summary: "This sermon looks at the minsitry of John in the light of Jesus."
John 3:22- 35 “ True greatness”
True greatness for some is thrust upon them (Monarchy) for others its pursued & they make a success in a particular field whether sport entertainment business and so on . You’ve received or the accolades, you have a vast portfolio , you have a major influence on others around you and others around can see it and submit to your greatness. (X- factor- Simon Cowell ) Others think true greatness is when you have left an indelible mark on the course of history never to be forgotten for instance in the field of literature - William Shakespeare, science - Charles Darwin, the political arena with Winston Churchill the sphere of Religion and Mother Teresa.
“But the cost of true greatness is humble, selfless, sacrificial service. The Christian who desires to be great and first in the kingdom is the one who is willing to serve in the hard place, the demanding place, the place where he is not appreciated and may even be persecuted. Knowing that time is short and eternity is long, he is willing to spend and be spent. He is willing to work for excellence without becoming proud, to withstand criticism without becoming bitter, to be misjudged without becoming defensive, and to withstand suffering without succumbing to self-pity.” (The MacArthur NT Commentary, MT. 16-23. Chicago: Moody, 1988. 243).
Jesus changes the mindset of true greatness on it head (Luke 9:48) As the disciple argue about who is the greatest amongst them t Jesus explains that “ For he who is least amongst you all, he is the greatest.”
And John the Baptist of course embodies for us that true Christian greatness as he said to his own complexed disciples these words (30) “He must become greater & I must become less.” They wanted to exalt Him and themselves, he wanted to exalt Jesus Christ alone. And that’s why of this man, Jesus would say Matt: 11:11. Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist (real off contenders of greatness)
1. True greatness is not found in a petty spirit or empire building V22 -26
Context: Jesus and his disciples have come out of Jerusalem and have gone out into the Judean countryside (22) here his disciples began baptising people. This was John the Baptist territory because in a similar location there is John the Baptist & his disciples (23) who were baptising individuals also (23) The location appears to be well suited to baptisms as a good supply of water and a constant flow of people wishing to be baptised (23) . (This wasn’t a believers baptism - but a baptism of repentance) .
(25) An argument breaks out amongst Johns disciples and a Jew about ceremonial washing and in the meantime out of the corner of their eyes they are seeing that Jesus disciples are also baptising people , and Johns disciples are deeply concerned and so they go to see their Rabbi (teacher)John . That man who was withyou on the other side of the Jordan – the one you testified about, he’s baptising & (26) everyone is going to him.
So they are losing out, there not becoming our followers but somebody else’s, there not part of our little kingdom but somebody else’s. Remember earlier they had lost two disciples (1:37) Andrew and another now masses of people were being baptised by that same group of people. A petty party spirit has manifested itself in these disciples of John, their little empire building mentality is under threat, should they not be filled with Joy because others are being baptised ?
Application: . A petty spirit the Church is forever squabbling with others(25) pointing fingers at others (26) , sometimes justified if heretical of course. We endeavour to maintain our little empire of Christianity, sometimes it grows other times its just surviving. But with a petty spirit we begin to strangle one another, our time together becomes a chore, it becomes a duty and not a delight . We look at others and forever complain , the malady of petty spirit, because our kingdom is under threat. We seek to justify our spirits outworking with good intentions but its deceived by a petty spirit.
• I know only too well from personal experience this malady (petty spirit), it is a symptom God’s people must avoid for its not assign of true greatness but of our fallen nature. .
Empire building Johns disciples were under threat, they were losing disciples, So often we are endeavouring to maintain our own little corner of Christianity, in the process we can become blinkered to the increase of true Christianity outside our own group. As a result we lose the joy of rejoicing seeing multitudes coming to Christ all other the world, because we are blinkered upon our own little kingdom. we become critical of other forms of Christianity and manipulative and controlling . May God deliver us from empire building . Let us be disciples sending one another out into the whole world making disciples of others in the process.